China, US can join hands to end pandemic

  • 2021-03-09
  • 1898

China, US can join hands to end pandemic

A person wears a personal protective mask while walking downtown during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Los Angeles, California, US on February 4, 2021. 

Experts said it is vital both countries share information and promote vaccine platforms

Leading researchers and public health experts from China and the United States called on the world's two largest economies to cooperate in the fight against COVID-19.

In a signed article published on the China-US Focus website, Cheng Li, director of the John L Thornton China Center at the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution, and Ryan McElveen, the center's associate director, recommended that the US and China should cooperate to stop the pandemic.

The two listed their recommendations for collaboration between the US and China, such as resuming the tradition of public health cooperation, retaining strong ties within the medical community and enhancing sharing of public health information.

Despite the political barriers undermining governmental cooperation, medical experts and scientists on both sides of the Pacific have preserved extensive and dynamic communication and collaboration throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Experts in the US and China have cooperated with each other on coronavirus research more than with any other country. This includes publishing more than 100 articles in renowned journals, leading to more collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic than over the previous five years combined.

"As two of the few countries with manufacturers that have produced vaccines, the US and China should engage in positive competition and work together to promote effective vaccine platforms and prevent adverse reactions," wrote the two researchers.

By early February, 66 vaccine candidatesincluding 16 in Chinahave undergone clinical trials, of which 10 have been approved for use in at least one country. Chinese researchers and vaccine manufacturers are working on about 40 additional vaccine candidates. As the host countries of multiple effective vaccine platforms, the US and China should engage in positive-sum competition rather than in a zero-sum game.

They called for building confidence and capacity for the future. "COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic nor the last global crisis, and the US and China can use this opportunity to build confidence and capacity for addressing other challenges," they said.

Emerging stronger

At a webinar co-hosted by Tsinghua University and the Brookings Institution last week, Tsinghua University President Qiu Yong said, "As we enter the period of vaccine distribution, it is vital that we work together to develop and form concrete policy recommendations for the next stage."

Brookings President John R Allen said the world will have a better chance to emerge from the pandemic stronger when the two countries join hands to fight COVID-19, on the basis of a long history of the two countries working together to combat epidemics such as SARS and Ebola.

As multiple virus variants emerging around the world pose a huge challenge to the global fight against COVID-19, Zhong Nanshan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a leading expert in China's respiratory disease research, stressed the urgency of close collaboration between the two countries to improve COVID-19 vaccines and cocktail therapy, and prepare for a potential new wave of outbreaks in the near future.

Zhong added that China-US collaboration on COVID-19 prevention and treatment should be based on science and evidence rather than politicization.

W Ian Lipkin, professor at the Mailman School of Public Health in Columbia University, stressed the need for a global mechanism of testing and distribution of diagnostics, drugs and vaccines.

Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the two countries should hold on to a "four Cs "principlecollaboration, competition, communication and coordinationto jointly curb the spread of COVID-19 and restore normal life.

Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said China and the US could collaborate to develop global real-time surveillance and response systems to detect outbreaks.

"Vaccine nationalism will backfire. Only global collaboration against the virus can lead to global recovery," Frieden said.

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